AS BOB GENDRON writes in the 33 1/3 book about the Afghan Whigs' seminal 1993 album Gentlemen, "[Greg Dulli] was the center of attention every guy wanted to be and the sex symbol every turned-on girl wanted to fuck." Truer words...
Whigs-turned-Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli, with his songwriting skill, charisma, and damned funny persona—a sort of Mr. Superlove—is a criminally underrated entertainer. He's fast and loose and debonair, wooing every audience he's ever played to, and he's played plenty. No longer as svelte and twisted up as in the Whigs' heyday, his howl can still make every—frequent—utterance of "baby" a knee-buckling whirlwind of confessional longing, sadness, and temptation, especially under the umbrella of the Twilight Singers' seductive gloaming.
Currently touring with a small spate of solo acoustic shows on the eve of the Twilight Singers' fifth full-length, Dynamite Steps (due out February 15), Dulli has been pushing the sonic envelope of "acoustic." Dulli and band have been playing at least one song from each and every album from his back catalog—including "Miles Iz Dead," "If I Were Going," "The Twilite Kid," three new songs, and his trademark cheeky mash-ups as well.
According to the man himself, "We swap in and out four [songs] a night, based on a group of 31. We play about 21 a night. There are a couple weird covers that are completely freaking people out. We do a Basement Jaxx cover and we do a Chris Whitley cover. We were also doing a Big Star cover for a while, but it started to get really sad. I knew Alex [Chilton, who died in March]... I was like, 'I don't want to do this one anymore.'"
Taking a much-needed day off in Majorca, Dulli was listening to records in his hotel room after a drink and a stroll around town on the Spanish island. "We had it positively thundering last night," Dulli says. "They had a nice wooden stage and we were all stomping our feet and the audience was stomping. It was like a fucking Greek wedding on a Mediterranean island. It was insane."
Before the onslaught of the Twilight Singers' promo tour for Dynamite Steps, Dulli will be prepping for a DJ gig on New Year's Eve at his bar in LA. His DJ name? "When Tiger Woods was in trouble with all those ladies he was screwing around with, I was watching TV and they described this one lady as a waitress at an Orlando Perkins [restaurant]. So the last couple times I've DJed under the name Orlando Perkins. He sounds a little dangerous. Like you might not want to fuck with Orlando Perkins."
Portland is the last stop on this tour, with golden-throated Shawn Smith (of Brad and Satchel fame) slated to sit in on the set. "Well, I'll tell you what—the last show of any tour tends to be the one that goes on the longest. I would imagine we'll throw the kitchen sink at Portland," Dulli says. "If [the audience is] up for it, we have the ability to play over two hours." Portland's up for it—there's nothing like watching a great showman tear up his larynx onstage, ripping through clever covers, bandying with the audience, and playing soul-drenched favorites. Then at this point in our conversation, Greg Dulli called me "darlin'," and I very nearly squealed. He's got that effect on people... mostly the ladies.